Monday, April 30, 2007

30 days later

If you slept right through April you may not have noticed that on overthenet we found pine cones in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, said goodbye to Sol Lewitt, eventually got some answers from Rose and Cath, looked into the Auckland Art Fair’s back passage, put up our hands for artist resale royalties, started the Guinness Book of Labels, flagged an upcoming plinth-a-thon in Wellington, mused on curators’ shoes and put in a good word for the folk on the CNZ Trip Of A Lifetime Tour. Whew.

Look-alike X

Images: Left, the Motormania and Cadillac Cafe in the old Putaruru post office, and yours if you want it. Right, Michael Stevenson’s installation at the 50th Venice Biennale 2003 This is the Trekka. (Thanks Bill)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Art is where you find it 3

Yes, it’s the Koru Club again.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


It seems you can’t keep good chocolate sculptors down. Above a 176 pound chocolate statue of Brad Pitt that was put on display for Valentines Day at a department store in South Korea and, from Madame Tussauds in the UK, a life-sized chocolate Elton John.
Images: Brad’s the one on the left.

Friday, April 27, 2007


Advertisers often cling to art to give their products added seriousness. A current Cadbury’s television advertisement has chocolate kids running through a chocolate art gallery complete with chocolate sculpture and a chocolate Mona Lisa. In the real art world chocolate sculpture is not such a sweet deal. When artist Cosimo Cavallaro created a life sized chocolate figure of Christ and tried to exhibit it in a downtown New York gallery over Easter, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights pressured the landlord. The exhibition was closed down.
Image: Cosimo Cavallaro's Sweet Jesus

Cocktail circuit

Winners of the CNZ Trip of a Lifetime Tour will be heartened by this news just in from The Australian.

“Tonight in Melbourne, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art will host one of the year's most important contemporary art events. The Australia Council's launch of its Venice Biennale 2007 campaign will officially introduce the three participating artists, Susan Norrie, Callum Morton and Daniel von Sturmer, to the 200 guests.

“Unofficially, the invitation-only cocktail party is also the chance for serious networking between commercial gallery owners, museum directors and curators, arts bureaucrats, collectors and sponsors. As an art dealer said earlier this week, ‘If you're not doing Venice, you're not part of the scene.’"

Art collector and philanthropist John Kaldor, in his second term as Australia's Venice Biennale commissioner, describes the biennale as "the Olympics of the art world".

The time and venue of the cocktail party for CNZ’s TLT team at Venice is yet to be announced.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Beneath the stars my ten guitars

The Art + Object catalogue arrived this morning with a sensational cover image of Peter Robinson’s glass sculpture Inflation theory 2. One of the feature items in the auction is Michael Parekowhai’s guitar Tua Iwa from Patriot: Ten Guitars. We saw all ten being played at the Ten Guitars opening at Artspace in Auckland and later at the City Gallery in Wellington. Hopefully the new owner will agree to lend if the set is ever gathered together again. Not to upstage Michael Parekowhai or the Art + Object auction, check out Rhys Chatham’s 100 Guitars. Magnet magazine had this to say, "Blue Oyster Cult and Kiss might’ve made noises about guitar armies, but it took composer Rhys Chatham to actually deploy one." And, if you like the idea of 100 electric guitar players marching over a hill, this incredible link on YouTube is the place to go.
Image: Rhys Chatham’s Les 100 guitares

Storr room

This photograph of Robert Storr was sent to us the other day. It came after a discussion with one of our regular readers about the increasingly flash offices, galleries and boardrooms that have become a feature of the arts. Someone once said you could do a museum show of the change in the New Zealand art scene by displaying the different styles of shoes curators have been wearing since the 1970s. A row of footwear travelling from Bata to Prada. Nice to see that Robert Storr, one of the most prolific and astute curators in the world, knows how to create a good working office when he needs one.
Image: Robert Storr, judge of the 2004 Walters Prize and this year's director of the Venice Biennale.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hirst castle

This story from the land of fox hunting was sent by a regular reader. The horror of having an artist move in next door is gripping the Cotswolds in the UK. Yes, it’s Damien Hirst again. This time he wants to install an abattoir rail in one of his studios so the carcasses he intends to dip in formaldehyde can be more easily moved through the process. Unfortunately his studio is overlooked by the home of a committed vegetarian. “Most people here are quite horrified that there are going to be dead animals there,“ Vicky Radwell told the Guardian newspaper. The local council is more relaxed. A district council planner told the paper there would be no slaughter of animals at the new studio but carcasses brought there by truck would be handled using the abattoir rail. A petition has been launched and placards posted around the studio.
Image: Damien Hirst with dead shark

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Let them eat cake

When dealer galleries raised their commissions from 33 and 1/3 percent to 40 percent, it didn’t spell the end of the line for dealers, artists or collectors. Later, when the auction houses went for buyer and seller premiums, sales went up not down. But suggest that artists get a share of the spoil and all hell breaks loose. Suddenly it is all our duties to protect market forces and predictions of doom are rife if we don’t.

So what really happens when a percentage of resale is given back to artists?

This from artnet: “Britain’s new resale royalty law, which grants living artists a portion of the proceeds when their artworks are resold by art dealers or auction houses, turns one year old on Feb. 14, 2007. Opponents of the measure, which was prompted by British participation in the European Economic Union, feared that the new tax -- also known by its French name, droit de suite -- would damage the country’s art market and drive business to the U.S. and Switzerland. Has that been the case?

“Au contraire. London’s contemporary art business is stronger than ever. ‘Sales have been as healthy as they were before the law came into effect,’ said Glenn Scott-Wright, director of London’s Victoria Miro Gallery. ‘Clients haven’t indicated that they were unwilling to buy because of the royalty. In fact, there hasn’t really been much discussion of the law at all.’

“British auctioneers have reported similar results. Pilar Ordovas, head of Christie’s contemporary art department in London, stated that 2006 brought ‘the best sales ever in contemporary art in our history.’ As far as paying royalties on sales, she said, ‘Nobody seems to be concerned.’”
Thanks to Russell Brown for pointing to this response.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Back on the doll

After our post on Andy Warhol dolls a flurry of reports on artist action figures were sent our way. The Walker Art Center featured again (you might remember them from our Lego fixation) with artist action figure maker Michael Leavitt. He has created one-off action figures of artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Dale Chihuly, Hieronymus Bosch and, you guessed it, Andy Warhol (thanks J&C). Our favourite artist action figure maker (how did we get to this place?), however, is Phil Collins. For the miniature Wrong Gallery offered by Cerealart he is creating action figures of Maurizio Cattelan, Massimiliano Gion and Ali Subotnick. They are around 30 cms high, well, Ali Subotnick is 25 cms, and come in an edition of 500. You can catch Phil Collins’ 2004 video work They shoot horses at Turbulence at the New Gallery in Auckland.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Silly art Saturday

Back in the 1980s one of the curators at the National Art Gallery created a room decked out as a 3D version of a Richard Hamilton print. Here is J Seward Johnson an artist who has made this sort of thing his life’s work.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Look alike IX

Walter De Maria’s Earth Room meets office pranks.

Some day my plinth will come

The Wellington Sculpture Trust has put out a request to young sculptors to propose a work for one of three plinths to be built outside Te Papa. The work will remain on view for around two years. Art followers will know that there are a number of these what-will-we-put-on-the-plinth? projects outside art museums at the moment including the Fourth Plinth project outside the National Gallery's in London and, more recently, the Art Gallery of New South Wales. In the London effort well established artists and big budgets were involved. We are told the payment to the artist available for the Wellington plinth project is around $20,000. This includes the artist’s fee for the idea along with all expenses and the costs involved in construction and deinstallation. A work that can stand up to two years of Wellington weather will need to meet pretty much the same standards of design and construction as a permanent work, especially when you take into account the safety requirements on any object placed in a public area. Sculptors submitting proposals will need to consider such budget items as site visits, drawings, presentation of concept, contract negotiations and consultation, engineer’s report for OSH sign off, fabrication, freight to Wellington, accommodation, installation (people and fixtures), maintenance, deinstallation, making good and return freight.
Image: The fourth plinth waiting for sculpture outside the National Gallery in London’s Trafalgar Square

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Social climbing

Who ever thought that fine art and exercise would find a place under the same roof? The Illoiha Fitness Club in Omotesando, Tokyo took advantage of a two-storey basement to create an art climbing frame. This fits in neatly with the gym’s theme "becoming beautiful through movement". The people at Illoiha hope that the frame climbing will “inspire newcomers to try out the sport, and start a new wave in fitness with style.” Te Papa, over to you.

The Guinness Book of Labels

Records celebrated on labels at Te Papa, the Auckland Art Gallery, TheNewDowse and the Koru Club art collection.

Aotearoa Cloud 2002 is “Gretchen Albrecht’s largest work to date”.

Tenano Tibo was “the first Samoan artist to exhibit in New Zealand”.

“Ina Te Papatahi was Goldie’s most frequently painted model.”

"Simon Ogden is one of the only artists in the world working with antique and found linoleum.”

“When Colin McCahon first exhibited the Northland Panels, nothing comparable had been seen before.”

"Colin McCahon, New Zealand’s most critically acclaimed artist.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The fissure king

Art work of the week, this illustration showing the cracks in the Guggenheim Museum's surfaces.
Click on the image to get the full effect.

Block Lego

A frozen piece of Lego sculpture for a cold, cold day.
Click image for the full glory


Remember our mentioning the fantastic DIY book on Russian implements? Here’s another great example sent to us by a reader. From St. Petersburg, a homemade camera made from a match box and two film spools, complete with a photo to prove it works.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Red-Light District

Over at stimulusresponse is a comic based on Paddy O'Rourke's 6-Week Studio exhibition at rm103 in Auckland.


unvarnished facts, reckless guesswork, insinuations and possible inventions that have arrived at webb’s have taken up the sponsorship of the art’s foundation’s new award for art patronage; haunch of venison is out of the basel art fair because of its auction house connections; michael stevenson, on the other hand, is in the basel art fair as part of art unlimited, described as “an exhibition platform for unusual art projects”; thenewdowse is selling paintings in its shop and gavin hipkins will be heading north to be resident in the mccahon house artist studio at the end of the year. any missed details, indignant denials or additions gratefully received, and the cutest - rewarded.

Give and take

We have always been big supporters of the idea that artists get some monetary return on the resale of their work. In our experience the rising value of art has little to do with the walls it hangs on or the people who come to own it. Instead the value is a recognition of what the work means to the culture and this determination is invariably based on the growing reputation of the artist plus their ongoing production. If that's the case, it has always seemed to us only fair that the person most responsible for this rise in value should get a share when that value is realised. So we are very pleased to see the Government through the Ministry of Culture and Heritage has issued a fascinating discussion paper on resale rights for visual artists looking at many international examples. You may also be entertained by the varying estimates on the size of the NZ art market each year (from Peter Webb's $40-50 million including both first sales and resales to an $80 million punt from John Daly-Peoples).

The Ministry's paper includes a heavy duty questionnaire that you can respond to. We can't promise to answer all the questions but we certainly plan to tackle some of them. You can read the discussion paper here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Creeping minimalism

One of our readers, commenting on our no bill boards for Auckland story, sent this link. It records that Sao Paolo has already made a start on removing billboards from their city. We have to admit, that in the rough and tumble of Sao Paolo’s architecture, the loss doesn’t seem creepy at all.
Images: Sao Paolo without billboards by Tony de Marco

Blown away

Anyone from Wellington will tell you that Aucklanders talking to you about how windy it is here, wears thin. So walking down Auckland’s High Street we were drawn to the leaflets pictured above announcing that Eve Armstrong’s Trading table - an event in conjunction with the Turbulence Triennial - had moved from High Street to outside the New Gallery. It’s probably petty of us to relate that Eve told us she had to change the venue because of the wind, but that’s how it was.
Images: Eve’s change of venue signs on the High Street, and Eve multi-tasking at the new venue.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Copy cat VII

Everyone, apart from Jeff Thompson, rush now, to Corrugated Creations for all your rippling tin solutions.

Friday, April 13, 2007


For some reason a number of people sent this plan to us at overthenet. It is the layout for the Auckland Art Fair coming next month to the Viaduct. Of course the first thing we did was to check out where the galleries we most often visit are located. As you can see from the red markings, most of them are not in the main fair ground at all but in a room out the back. Guess they’ll open the roller door shown on the plan and make some sort of a tunnel.
Marked spaces: Back room clockwise from top: Masterworks, Jonathan Smart, 64Zero3, Sue Crockford, Kaliman, Michael Lett and McNamara. Back room middle: Roger Williams and Ivan Anthony. Main hall, back wall top to bottom: Hamish McKay and Peter McLeavey. Up front: Gow Langsford.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lett’s sign off

We don’t have to tell regular readers that we have an unhealthy obsession with art gallery signs. So, when we heard that the Michael Lett Gallery on Karangahape Road had removed all its signage and was not intending to replace it, we rushed our Auckland-based photographer there to get an image.

Toy boy

While we are on an Andy Warhol track – and to confuse everyone who has read our posts railing against art museums selling art-related gifts – consider the amazing selection of Andy Warhol toys on the market. The images above are just a sample of what’s available. It’s a range that cements what we already know: Andy Warhol will remain the dominant icon of the 20th century. Are there Joseph Beuys dolls? Does Marcel have an action figure? Will Barbie and Ken have to step aside for Cicciolina and Jeff? We think not. Please send images of any contemporary artist dolls to overthenet. Finger Puppets not accepted.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Site for sore eyes

Good bye fridge magnets, hello artist and film maker Miranda July

More good news than you can shake a stick at

We had a talk with Rose and Cath at Creative New Zealand last week. We asked again why who was on the visual arts panel was kept secret until after grants had been awarded. The bad news is that Cath didn’t think knowing who was on the panel made any difference. The good news is she agreed that CNZ “would revisit our practice of not releasing committee members' names prior to the committee meeting”. Hopefully for the next round, we should be able to let you have the names as soon as the members are decided. Rose and Cath also told us that CNZ “will keep faith with peer assessment”, so that’s good news too.

So, panel members for the last visual arts assessment were: Ann Shelton, Ali Bramwell, Denys Watkins, Simon Morris and Richard Reddaway.

But even the best laid plans… with Ann Shelton moving to Wellington and the addition of Richard Reddaway you can see in this new panel three of the five members are on the staff of Massey University's College of Creative Arts in Wellington.
Image: The stick

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Twin cities

The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne is exhibiting Michael Parekowhai’s super-sized inflatable version of Cosmo for the first time this week. The sculpture was gifted to the gallery by the Melbourne Art Fair where it had its first showing. Deputy director of the NGV, Tony Ellwood said of the blow-up bunny. “We are excited to be exhibiting this prominent New Zealand artist for the first time.” As we have already reported, the other large inflatable rabbit Jim McMurtry, is at present on display in the foyer of the Christchurch Art Gallery.
Image: Cosmo on exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria

William Hsu

One of our regular readers sent us images of this beautiful installation in the side window of Miss Crabb on Ponsonby Road. It is by William Hsu.

Sol LeWitt

The American artist Sol LeWitt died last night. He was certainly a great artist, but from what we've heard, he was a great man too. We recall his work was part of a faxed art show organised at the Sue Crockford gallery some years ago. The most memorable part of the exhibition was that LeWitt sent small drawings to all the students who helped create his work.
Image: Sol LeWitt Arcs in four directions 1999

Hard core fans

The internet is a strange place. Last week we received an email from Boris, a website administrator, asking if we were related to Alfred H Barr Jnr, the founder director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. We wish. Anyway, the email pointed us to Susie Bright’s blog. It turns out Susie is a sexologist with books to her name like The sexual state of the union, Three the hard way and How to write a dirty story. Ok, how does our namesake Alfred H Barr and Andy Warhol fit in?

Susie, it seems has just brought a second hand car and under the seat found an old (October 18, 1956) letter from MoMA rejecting an offer to gift one of his shoe drawings by Andy Warhol. As Andy Warhol is a special interest it was easy to check it out. Yes, there was a rejection letter sent at that time and, yes, it was signed by Alfred H Barr. Unfortunately we suspect that Susie’s letter is one of the facsimiles from the Andy Warhol Pop Box, published five years ago by the Andy Warhol Museum. As Andy Warhol would have said, “Gee.”
Illustration: Susie’s letter. Click on the image to read.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Advice to collectors 4

“I know that some people grumble about art fairs and biennials, but these are probably the same kind of people who would grumble about their favourite bands becoming popular.”

Matthew Higgs of the London dealer gallery White Columns in Louisa Buck and Judith Greer Owning Art: The contemporary art collector’s handbook.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The black, the red and the white

As we didn’t want to let anyone down on Easter Sunday, here are some oddly familiar contemporary designs on Easter eggs from a current exhibition at The Ukrainian Museum in New York. For Googlers, the Ukranians call the eggs Pysanky.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Question time

A reader has sent this important question to keep everyone occupied over the next few days. How many giraffes has Alan Gibbs purchased for his private sculpture park? Three or four?

Block Escher

OK, this is just about the end of our Lego art obsession, but before we stop you need to see this extraordinary rendition of Escher’s print Relativity. If you want to know the tricks behind this sculpture you can go here, but be warned, it’s like knowing how the magician does that hat thing with the rabbit.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Standing room only

Rather than have intrusive barriers protect the chairs on display at the
Dunedin Public Art Gallery, pine cones have been called in to do the job. On a study tour of country houses in the UK, a staff member apparently observed the use of pine cones as Do Not Sit signals. At first it seems rather too close for comfort, but you do get used to it. To make it even better, the conservators have put small sheets of acetate underneath the pine cones to stop them staining the fabric. We’re not sure what they have done to protect the acetate. Who knows where this cone idea came from (that’s a plea for information rather than a rhetorical question), but it sure beats stanchions and velvet ropes.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


We’re not sure if Dunedin is the only city that does this sort of thing, but they certainly seem to have taken the lead in branded bronze. These two bronze sculptures – a tribute to the Yellow Eyed Penguin and The Southern Man – are branded with the sponsor’s logos, ‘Speedprint’ on the hat for Pengie and ‘Speights’ on the saddle for The Man. There are untapped dog food possibilities for Wellington’s Dog Glued To Man’s Leg on Plimmer Steps.
Images: to enlarge click on image

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Caught short

Remember the wacky list to artists from TheNewDowse? Yesterday, Director Tim Walker sent another email apologising for the “unsettling” email, and “any upset” it may have caused.

“I also wanted to take this opportunity to comment on an email questionnaire that you would have received recently from Mandy Herrick at TheNewDowse. This was a case of a new member of staff's enthusiasm leading to the email going out before being discussed or approved.”

Image: Sign from President Truman's desk, made in the Federal Reformatory at El Reno, Oklahoma.

30 days in March

For newbies and fanatics, here is our pick from last month’s postings. In March we: established an archive of the lost and forgotten, a graveyard of our failure and your indifference; posted the most popular overthenet item of all time as we told readers about Reflect, the washing liquid that is kind to black clothes; rattled on about dealer gallery signs; lamented a lost opportunity in Auckland; went to Christchurch to check out Michael Parekowhai’s giant rabbit; started off on an art lego jag; noted the explosive quality of the City Gallery’s publicity and pointed to stimulusresponse’s 3D review of Anne Shelton’s Enjoy exhibition.

Art is where you find it 2

If you’re caught waiting for a plane for an hour or so at Christchurch Airport as we were in the weekend, head straight for the upstairs toilets. At the far end of the upstairs lounge down a dimly lit corridor and behind the cleaning gear and rubbish bins, is the very cool mural pictured above. It was made to commemorate the last big air race in 1953 between the RAF (the British), flying Canberras against the RAAF (the Australians). A sign of changing times; the planes stopped to refuel in Iraq, Sri Lanka, Cocos Islands and Perth before arriving in Christchurch. The RAF got there first.

The relief mural was created by Russell Clark in 1957, we assume to celebrate fifth anniversary of the air race which was held in 1953. The symbolism of the mural is much as you would expect. “The figure represents man’s ability to conquer space.” The orange sun on the left represents the time of departure, the moon “the night through which they flew” and the yellow sun on the right "the dawn into which the leading planes landed”.

Strangely enough, Colin McCahon had been commissioned in 1952 by TEAL (Tasman Empire Airways Limited) to create a painting to commemorate the great event. His painting was exhibited and toured but later was used to make a crate and destroyed. Some studies survive and you can see them on the McCahon site here. But even more strangely, McCahon did a reprise of his aviation theme in 1957. Could this have been in response to the Clark mural you can still see behind the bins in Christchurch today?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Private lives

One of our readers suggested that Creative New Zealand no longer had anyone with expertise dealing with the visual arts. That didn’t sound right, so we sent off an email asking who was “responsible for the visual arts in Creative New Zealand” and also “Could you also let us know (a brief description will be fine) what qualifications or experience they have in the fine arts?” CNZ responded with news that Kate was on maternity leave and Jude was doing her job. But nothing about their visual arts expertise.

So we sent another email: “Could you give us a brief outline of the professional or other experience Kate and Jude bring to their role of "looking after the Visual Arts portfolio." CNZ’s response? “Unfortunately we are not in a position to release specific details about individual staff members as this is a privacy issue.” The news of Kate’s pregnancy obviously falls outside CNZ’s privacy restrictions.

We have a meeting with Creative New Zealand next week. We’ll keep you posted.